an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

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The Mirror

            “Carol looked at her. ‘How do you become a poet?’
            ‘By feeling things – too much, I suppose,’ Therese answered conscientiously.”
            The Price of Salt, 1952, Patricia Highsmith

            i.          Bliss

I spilled water on the carpet when I knelt to feed the houseplants
Like you broke the milk jug
Ambivalence touched me lightly
I waxed translucent

I read in my old cahier the violent words of fantasy
I felt my knuckles drag
Soft fevers tore my skin
I ate fitfully and late

Music rang and crooned
The curve of my throat was vulnerable
Restless in the stair bend
I fell heavy with yearning

            ii.         The Mirror

You
I found you
I saw you in the Palermo
You stole glances but were afraid

And being you, I saw myself
In some unfamiliar frame
You were too much of a boy

            ***

Let me count the ways
That I am you
I read Joyce’s Portrait too

I too bought material things for love
And saw figures in clouds
And whole worlds in Sandringham houses that each seemed like their own country

I saw you and within you I saw myself too
And within that silhouette another self and on and on
Until I numbered in the thousands and millions

            iii.        Anger

Like you I could not escape capriciousness
Like Auckland weather

On Oxton Road I watched a curl of leaves rush across the street, unwinding
Those blissful feelings closely held were now dispersed and lost

I felt the blow she dealt you
The shame of living vicariously

I looked for you in a palindrome of movement
Here and there and there and here again

But you were gone and there was only jealousy
A disgust at never knowing true and beautiful affairs

And the sky turned to slate
And the wind blew as if to say

You will never settle
You will for ever shift and change

I stared at the 1917 in stone on a Dominion Road building
            which was there before you or I were born

And selfishly believed that the world held its breath for me
            and that was why the streets were empty

I ran to find you and put you behind me

            iv.        On to Perigee

In the end I came to your conclusion
There will be a gradual return, the journey slow where it had been so quick before
I’ll walk towards the natural and right ending of things

It is an omnipresent ending
I’ll make your choice repeatedly
On shuttering grey days and when the light is lemon-toned

None of the first ecstasy now
But still the wingbeats of the pulse of love—
Like you, I choose to continue